Environmental Policy

Europe Electronic Waste
October 5, 2011 10:59 AM - Andy Soos, ENN

Electronic waste is a number of different types of waste streams. It can include old computers, TV's etc. The European Parliament and the 27 EU member states are set for difficult negotiations over the recast of the bloc’s electronic waste directive as some European Parliament members insist on ambitious targets for collecting and recycling discarded fridges, phones and other e-waste than the member states can accept. The European Parliament's Environment Committee voted yesterday on its second reading recommendation on the recast of the Waste from Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) Directive, aiming at toughening existing rules on electrical and electronic equipment.

Great Lakes face stresses from run-off, invaders
October 5, 2011 07:24 AM - Andrew Stern, Reuters, CHICAGO

Great Lakes shorelines are becoming clogged by algae blooms fed by agricultural run-off, while invasive mussels decimate the food chain in deeper waters, an environmental group said on Tuesday. The five lakes, which contain one-fifth of the world's fresh water and supply tens of millions of people, may be "veering close to ecosystem collapse," the report by the National Wildlife Federation said. "Too much food is causing massive algal blooms in Lake Erie and other coastal systems, while too little food is making fish starve in Lake Huron's offshore waters," said the group's Great Lakes director, Andy Buchsbaum. There are many problems afflicting the Great Lakes, which in other ways have grown healthier after years of pollution. This past summer, Lake Erie was choked by toxic algae blooms up to 2 feet thick and 10 miles wide, and algae coated some Lake Michigan coastlines. Water treatment removes the toxin, at a cost, but often creates an unpleasant odor, one of the report's authors, Julie Mida Hinderer, said in an interview.

Chevrolet's Carbon Initiative Program
October 4, 2011 11:02 AM - R Greenway, ENN

In the U.S., our buildings — schools, homes, and offices — consume one third of the energy we use. That makes them a major source of carbon dioxide emissions. And when your home isn’t properly insulated, you need more energy to heat it. That produces more carbon dioxide and raises your heating bill. As part of its Carbon Initiative Program, Chevrolet is teaming up with MaineHousing (Maine State Housing Authority) to help increase energy efficiency through a verifiable carbon reduction program — the weatherization of 5,500 low-income homes over the next 5 years. Chevrolet’s investment will be used to pressurize homes to determine heat /cooling leakage, blow recycled content insulation into walls and ceilings, seal chimneys, insulate exposed foundation and tune heating systems for efficiency. When its all said and done, this program will not only help reduce home energy use, improve air quality and cut resident’s heating and cooling bills, it will also aggregate tons of avoided CO2 emissions from thousands of weatherized homes. It's pretty impressive, and substantial. But that's how big changes are made — one small change at a time.

Montana clean water settlement
October 4, 2011 06:56 AM - Laura Zuckerman, Reuters, SALMON, Idaho

A federal judge has approved a far-reaching settlement giving Montana until 2014 to clean up polluted streams and lakes in 28 watersheds across the state, capping nearly 15 years of legal battles, officials said on Monday. The deal covers more than 17,000 miles of rivers and streams and 461,000 surface acres of lakes, requiring them to meet water-quality standards set for uses such as drinking, swimming and fishing, under the federal Clean Water Act. The settlement, signed by U.S. District Judge Donald Molloy on September 27 and made public on Monday, addresses hundreds of types of pollutants, including hazardous chemicals like polychlorinated biphenyls, or PCBs, and heavy metals such as mercury. The deal stems from a 1997 lawsuit that said the Environmental Protection Agency and the Montana Department of Environmental Quality had violated the Clean Water Act by permitting contaminants to be released into the state's already degraded waters. In 2003, Molloy sided with the Alliance for the Wild Rockies and other environmental groups, ordering Montana to develop pollution control plans for many waterways by 2012.

Recycled Water Quenches San Antonio's Thirst
October 3, 2011 09:05 AM - Wade Goodwyn, NPR Topics: Environment

Gliding along in a flat-bottom boat on the San Antonio River thorough the heart of downtown San Antonio is a beautiful and authentic Texas experience. There's one thing a boat tour guide is not going to mention, however. Texas is in the middle of a historic drought, and the river that tourists are cruising along with ducks, big bass, catfish and perch is actually treated sewage water.

Record Arctic ozone hole appears
October 3, 2011 07:05 AM - Reuters, SINGAPORE

A huge hole that appeared in the Earth's protective ozone layer above the Arctic in 2011 was the largest recorded in the Northern Hemisphere, triggering worries the event could occur again and be even worse, scientists said in a report on Monday. The ozone layer high in the stratosphere acts like a giant shield against the Sun's ultraviolet (UV) radiation, which can cause skin cancers and cataracts. Since the 1980s, scientists have recorded an ozone hole every summer above the Antarctic at the bottom of the globe. Some years, the holes have been so large they covered the entire continent and stretched to parts of South America, leading to worries about a surge in skin cancers. During extreme events, up to 70 percent of the ozone layer can be destroyed, before it recovers months later.

New Zealand adjusts its CO2 trading program to address market distortions
September 30, 2011 06:35 AM - Reuters, WELLINGTON, NZ

New Zealand is looking to exclude the use of U.N. offsets from industrial gas projects in its emissions trading scheme from as soon as 2012, as these offsets threaten to distort the market, the government said on Friday. Climate change minister Nick Smith said he wanted to maintain the integrity of the emissions trading scheme, which is why the government is considering banning offsets from the potent greenhouse gas hydrofluorocarbon-23 (HFC-23) and nitrous oxide credits. "The high value for destroying these gases creates perverse incentives in developing countries to manufacture more of them bringing into question the environmental gains," Smith said in a statement. The New Zealand scheme allows polluters and traders to import U.N. offsets called Certified Emission Reductions from clean energy projects in poorer nations. The CERs can help polluters meet their emissions reduction obligations. But about two-thirds of the nearly 745 million CERs issued to date have come from projects that destroy HFC-23 and nitrous oxide, leading to criticism that the owners of these projects, mainly in China and India, are enjoying massive windfall profits.

African Countries Struggle To Fight Overfishing
September 26, 2011 08:54 AM - Leon Kaye, Triple Pundit

Many countries in Africa are starting to turn the corner economically. With global economic powers looking for new sources of everything from minerals to food products, Africa has attracted heaps of investment in recent years. But the effects are not necessarily benefiting everyone in Africa, and there is mounting concern that many will not share in the riches.

WWF celebrates World Rhino Day
September 22, 2011 11:19 AM - WWF

On the occasion of the second annual World Rhino Day, WWF joins the residents of rhinoceros range countries in calling for an end to rhino poaching, which threatens the survival of rhino species. Officials in South Africa, home to most of the world's rhinos, have responded to the recent poaching crisis by increasing protection for rhinos, conducting more rigorous prosecutions, and imposing stricter sentences on wildlife criminals. This action must be met with a corresponding commitment by countries in Asia where consumer demand for rhino horn is inciting poachers. South Africa has lost at least 284 rhinos in 2011, including 16 or more critically endangered black rhinos. A majority of the poaching incidents have occurred in the world famous Kruger National Park, but privately owned rhinos have also been targeted. Law enforcement officials have made over 165 arrests so far during the year, and some convicted poachers have been sentenced to up to 12 years in prison.

Belgian Company Leads the Way In Landfill Mining
September 16, 2011 08:35 AM - Akhila Vijayaraghavan, Triple Pundit

Landfill mining is a rapidly growing area of waste management that is proving to be extremely profitable. About 50 miles east of Brussels, at Houthalen-Hecteren lies the Remo Milieubeheer landfill which dates back to the 1960s. It consists of industrial waste, household garbage and other things that landfills normally have — basically 16.5 million tons of trash.

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